Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New hours for the Alaska State Library and Alaska State Archives

We're pleased to announce that the Richard Foster Reading Room of the Alaska State Library and the Research Center of the Historical Collections and Alaska State Archives will be open Mondays beginning on April 30, 2018. New hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. The Library and Archives have been closed to the public on Mondays since September 2016, but recent additions to the staff have made it possible to restore Monday hours.
The Alaska State Library Reading Room.
Visitors can soon enjoy the Reading Room and access Library resources Monday through Friday. Photo by Lara Swimmer.

If you're working on a historical research project and even these increased hours do not work for you, or if you'll only be in Juneau on a Saturday this summer, the Library can offer a limited number of Saturday research appointments. Although we cannot guarantee that every request will be granted, we'll try our best to accommodate you. Find contact information in the LAM directory..

How does research at the Library and Archives work?

The materials in the Reading Room, including Alaska newspapers on microfilm, and in-library databases are readily available whenever the Library is open. Items from the Historical Collections and the Alaska State Archives are stored in climate-controlled secure storage and brought into the Research Center for viewing.
The interior of the Alaska State Library and Archives vault, showing tall rolling stacks with ledgers and records boxes.
Wayne pulls records boxes for researchers at the Alaska State Archives. Photo by Chris Arend.

You can search the Historical Collections through the Alaska Library Catalog or peruse a list of photograph and manuscript collections. A selection of photos, videos, and manuscripts are also available on Alaska's Digital Archives. The image below is a record from the Alaska Library Catalog for a VHS tape about the Treadwell Mine. In order to watch this video, write down the call number and come to the Research Center. A staff member will retrieve the item from the vault and wheel in a television and VCR for you to use. The same process is used for books, photograph collections, journals, and nearly all other materials.
Catalog record for video The Treadwell Mine.
Click on this image to see the record larger.

Records from the Archives are organized a little differently. Most of the records are arranged according to the agency that created them, like the Department of Fish & Game or the Office of the Governor, and then subdivided in various ways. Because each item is not individually described, researching at the Archives means flipping through a lot of folders and methodically going through boxes. Although it's less precise than searching the Library catalog, looking through records usually provides interesting context and research rabbit holes.

When you find something of interest, there are scanners and a photocopier for use in the Research Center. Copies are 10 cents a page and scans are free. You may bring your own USB drive or purchase one from the Library.

If you have a specific research topic or if there are many items that you'd like to look at, it's best to contact the Historical Collections or Archives in advance so that your requested materials can be retrieved and ready for you when you arrive. Working with a librarian or archivist before your visit usually results in a richer, more productive research session because he or she can help identify additional materials that may interest you.

What are the rules in the Research Center?

The Research Center has three main rules of which researchers should be aware. The first is that food and drinks, including water, are not allowed, to protect collections from pests and damage. The second is that bags need to be kept in lockers in the Reading Room or behind the Research Center desk. Third, pens are prohibited to minimize the risk of transferring inks to collections. Pencils are provided.

Research Center of the Alaska State Library Historical Collections and Alaska State Archives.
The Research Center is open to everyone and is staffed by experts from the Historical Collections and Archives.

If you'd like a more relaxed research experience, covered drinks and pens are allowed in the Reading Room, and the study tables have task lights and outlets to charge your devices. We look forward to assisting with your research!

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